Here we’re mainly talking about costs of self-publishing a print book within Australia. Usually, an eBook-only publication can be done with only editing and minor ebook cover design costs.
Read all of this article before going to Amazon or IngramSpark with your final file, so you can set yourself up for success.
How much does it cost to self-publish a book on Amazon?
Amazon KDP is the leading self-publishing platform, and it is free to publish a book there.
But wait. Publishing your book to Amazon, IngramSpark or Blurb is the final step in the print-on-demand publishing process. First there are other cost considerations to do with getting your new book ready to be published.
Although the cost to publish on Amazon is zero, and $65 or so to publish at IngramSpark, you shouldn’t publish your book ‘raw’. To self-publish your book with quality in mind, you will invest in professional editing and design services, possibly tools, and education. Readers of all kinds expect a quality book, and they are discerning with their dollars.
What is the Usual Total Cost to Self-publish a Book?
As a self-published author, I found that it costs me very little to create a book with a nice cover, but only because I am an editor, with a proofreader, beta readers, and a knowledge of artwork to help the book along.
The editorial costs would amount to an average of $2,200 – $2,600 for a 40,000-word book, with the basics of a Manuscript Assessment report, copy editing, and proofreading (AU pricing, 10/2/2023). Copyediting is from 3 cents a word, by an Australian with training.
This does not include intensive developmental editing work, which some manuscripts need and ranges wildly in price, so this could be an extra $3,600.
The design costs would amount to $1,500 for a combination of cover art, interior design typesetting (in a selected style), and PDF artwork. Some designers charge that just for the cover, but I know a couple of experienced designers who charge ballpark $280 to $350. Registered typesetters may charge $2,400, which is why I started helping novice authors get typesetting and artwork for lesser rates.
Illustration starts from $70 per black & white drawing, $125 per colour image, low end, but the going rate is more like $350 for colour. Some illustrators do illustrations for a royalty share agreement.
ISBN registration with 10 ISBNs = $125.
Proof cost example = $33 IngramSpark or $15 KDP. $100 at SOS Printing.
So you are looking at about $4,058 altogether to self-publish a book in Australia. This is not including custom illustrations.
This rough guideline does not even include other marketing expenses, such as BookFunnel system, sales page hosting, or Amazon Marketing System ads. This overall cost to self-publish is just to get your book edited, designed, and put on the market.
Many novice authors skimp on editing and marketing, but then, they don’t really expect to win many new readers’ hearts anyway.
But You Take This Book Publishing Thing Seriously and Have a Budget
Intent on success but starting with little online presence? You could easily spend $10,000 if you have big plans. This includes nice book design, some social media branding images, photography, web page and media releases, but is not including book writing coaching.
If you don’t yet have a public platform, achieving media attention through books would take time and cost mucho grande! It would be difficult to recoup your investment, unless you create a course (as an up-sell) and have a solid marketing and media plan. From my understanding, this email list and social media building takes some years. You could pay to advertise instead, just don’t advertise a book.
Most small business owners don’t even have a marketing plan to implement, which is sadly the case with many authors too.
Keep in mind that to get your book’s quality to where it needs to be, this will cost you more in time and effort, such as in the editing and administration phases.
Why Plan your Costings?
Even though you are investing upfront to publish your book, it’s a good aim to pay off these costs three months after you start selling your book.
This is where planning comes in. Always use a calculator to determine how many books you need to sell, at a fair retail price, to earn back your initial costs. There are royalty and print calculators provided at IngramSpark.
(We tutor this step in the new Book Creation Success course).
The total of how much it costs to self-publish a book will depend on the outcomes sought.
Elements of Self-Publishing High Quality Books
- An eye-catching, quality cover that is professionally designed
- Simple and easy-to-read writing
- Content is free of grammatical or spelling errors, i.e. it has been edited for grammar, word choice, voice, and flow
- Professional design with zero formatting errors (like awkward page endings or misalignment)
- High resolution images and quality illustrations
Why Have Professional Book Design?
After editing, the next largest cost is book design, which is a good way to judge a book’s professional standards.
One day I was at an event and I picked up a book that was about LinkedIn. Curious, I looked inside and noticed that the line spacing was single. That book would be very hard to read. It is more usual to have at least 4 points between lines, to aid reading (e.g. 12 pt type, 16 pt leading).
Points are the standard measurement for line spacing and typefaces. Along with incorrect hyphenation and awkward page endings, they are things we want to get right by using book designers.
Low Budget Hacks
Don’t worry, if you have a low budget and need to use some cheaper resources, you can still publish an ebook.
For the design and production of your book on a low budget, it’s straightforward. If you want to DIY, you can use a free layout or design tool and buy a cover design from a cover designer on Fiverr. You can use the free software ‘Kindle Create’ to design an ebook.
However, for paperback, you’ll find some format problems with these free tools, so we suggest getting a freelance book designer in your price range. Find me on LinkedIn and I will help you find a designer, even if I’m busy.
Another hack is to use Canva (free or paid) to create book imagery for your launch. The other tool I like is Adazing. But you first need to set up your social media channels and book covers for better influence – and this takes brand design and some knowhow.
Here, let’s suppose you want a professional finish. Get a graphic designer or design assistant in this case.
Costs of Author Training for Book Publishing
Before getting all excited over launching, you should inform yourself on the publishing process first.
There are lots of steps to self-publishing a book just like the big publishers. Without the right guidance on what it takes to self-publish your own book, you could end up spending more and getting less (i.e. a vanity book). Let’s get specific.
You could unknowingly buy a $3,199 book promotion that can be purchased separately for $270, and get little results. (This is a real offer I saw online that involves buying advertisements in Ingram magazines).
With so many choices, how would you decide what is worth it?
As an Australian or New Zealander, you could end up wasting your cash budget with the wrong company on the other side of the world, one who has no care for the customer once the sale is made. BAAAA!
For a self-publishing course that fills the novice knowledge gap, you could pay US$500—$5000, says the gurus. Nope, not here.
Taking the course Book Creation Success, run by Jennifer Lancaster of Qld, Australia, you can get detailed training on book composition and publishing for $227 – or 1 coffee a week. Access for 12 months (and interaction in a group) is included.
It’s time to check out the local self-publishing assistance services or a reasonably-priced Australian self-publishing course. Do not sign on for a $4,000+ pre-paid publishing contract with a ‘press’ that has its base in USA or London. These subsidy presses do not lead to your success.
Learn about launching as well by reading an indie publishing book to get you up to speed:
- Author Training Manual by Nina Amir
- Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran
- Write.Publish.Repeat by S. Platt and J.B. Truant